"Vital St. Gemme Beauvais House. 20 South Main Street. South half, c.
1792; north half c. 1801 (dendrochronology); renovated 2000.
Property type: French vertical log house. This post-in-ground, vertical log
house originally had a linear plan. At the time it was originally built, it had
only two rooms, two cabinets against the south wall, and a possible cabinet
against the north wall. The large room north of the chimney was the cuisine with
a chimney and fireplace separating it from a cabinet against the north wall. The
chambre in the south end of the building was separated from the cuisine by a
large stone chimney.
The exterior has been drastically altered. The building was reduced in length
from its original size. Its roof was changed by adding gable end walls and a
double pitch roof. A gabled, wood-framed, two-story, rear addition was
constructed. In the 1930s, dormers were added and a single pitch roof was
installed. The interior was also substantially altered. Stairs, closets and
toilets have subdivided the spaces, and a large stone chimney was replaced with
one of brick to accommodate a furnace flue. The cabinets at the south end were
removed, the chambre subdivided into two rooms constructed from ceiling boards
salvaged when the building was shortened. Despite these changes, the first floor
framing system of puncheon log joists of the north half and hewn timbers in the
south half, the garret floor framing of irregularly spaced hewn timber joists in
the north half and solid hewn timber floor in the south half and the poteaux en
terre wall logs" with their pierrotage remain in place.
This house is one of only three post-in-ground houses remaining in Ste.
Genevieve. Its main block measures 62 feet 5 niches across the front and 35 feet
deep. The walls are constructed of hewn cedar logs, infilled with bouzillage,
sheathed with horizontal clapboard on the outer surface and sheathed in plaster
on the inner surface. The original roof truss system consisted of kingpost
trusses. The lower portion of the truss was cut away when the roof was remodeled
to allow the addition of a second story. Typical French colonial galleries
extend the width of the front and rear walls. Wood box columns support the front
gallery roof. Posts are of red cedar and secondary rafters extend over the
gallery giving the characteristic double pitch to the roof. A central chimney
with stone foundation and brick upper construction rises from the roof.
The principal entrance, located at the center of the front of the house,
opens into the largest room. Secondary entrances are placed at the south end of
the front wall, at the north end of the back wall, and at the southeast corner
of the house. Fenestration consists of double hung windows, either six-over-six
or two-over-two lights. Louvered shutters flank lower story windows. The roof is
clad in wood shingles. Three dormers project from the west roof slope. The
center dormer is fenestrated with paired two-over-two windows, while flanking
dormers are fenestrated with single, two-over-two, double hung sashes. A brick
chimney projects from the north end of the roof ridge.
The present interior floor plan consists of a large central room flanked by
narrower rooms at either side, each running the depth of the house. A kitchen
addition is at the southeast corner of the house. The original, simple open
attic space was remodeled in the twentieth century into three bedrooms. The
interior walls are plastered with chair rails. Ceiling beams are exposed. During
the nineteenth century, the house was remodeled into a three-room dwelling with
a fourth room added to the southeast of the house to form an L-plan. Dormers
were added to the house in the early twentieth century. Piaget-van Ravenswaay
photographs from the 1930s show the front porch partially enclosed with lattice,
an off center stove chimney rising from the rear roof slope, and a rear, open,
shed-roofed porch. The house was recorded by the Historic American Buildings
Survey in 1939 and was subsequently recorded by a HABS survey team in the 1980s.
The house was built for Vital St. Gemme Beauvais (1746-1816) and his wife
Felicité Janis. He was a son of Jean Baptiste St. Gemme Beauvais, Sr., who died
at Ste. Genevieve about 1760 and a brother of Jean Baptiste who built the
Amoureux House. He was descended from Gabriel Beauvais and Marie Crosnier of
St. Martin, Perche, France.~
Historic District National Register Nomination Form
This building is included in two historic districts. It is listed as
the Vital St. Gemme de Beauvais House on the earlier
National Landmark Historic District
with a construction date of 1786.